Tuesday, February 9, 2016


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I like to call "Swamp Thing Old, Swamp Thing New, Swamp Thing Borrowed, Swamp Thing Blue" or ...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
The saga of three-hundred pounds of potatoes on a mission to rid a Universal Studios backlot of evil.
Season One / Episode Two : Falco
In which grandma doesn't make it out of the pilot episode alive.

There is apparently a controversy surrounding the appropriate viewing order for episodes of Swamp Thing, which is as sad a sentence as I'm able to construct without involving the words "baby shoes" in some capacity. 

That one person sat down one day and figured out the discrepancies in the broadcast versus the story order of USA's live-action Swamp Thing television show already constitutes a gross deficit in the overall achievements of human history. Once you've got more than a handful of people arguing about it on Wikipedia, the collective man-hours expended to figure this out obviates all human accomplishments since the industrial revolution. Thanks to the folks who figured out the Swamp Thing running order, we're back to living in the age of steam, which is good news for a whole swath of cosplayers.

Still, for the purposes of this recap, I'm using the running order as collected on the Shout! Factory DVD set. If you don't think this is appropriate and have your own theory as to the proper order in which to watch Swamp Thing, I ask you to gaze deeply into the faces of your loved ones and ask yourself if this is really how you want to spend your life.

As for me, I'm already a deficit on human history, so let's discuss "Falco!"

Your hero, Atlanta Falco.

Sadly, this does not introduce the Austrian-born performer of "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Vienna Calling" into the world of Swamp Thing, except in my fanfic. It does, however, open on a funeral. Whose it is, they don't really bother to tell the audience, so it's up to you to scan the crowd and see which of the not-yet familiar faces from the pilot may be missing from the crowd. Could it be th - no, nevermind, Jim's right there, rats.

A hidden figure takes some potshots at the assembled mourners from behind a tree, meaning that either the Fred Phelps folks are really upping their game or someone's trying to streamline the whole funeral process by getting as many mourners in the hole along with the casket as possible.

If I told you this was a shot from an early Coen Brothers film, you wouldn't question it. 

The shooter turns out to be Falco (Peter Mark Richman), who's chased off the scene by a pair of armed sheriff's deputies who happened to be in attendance. Falco eludes their blind, wild gunfire and deposits his would-be murder weapon in a hollow tree trunk. Enter, at this point, Swamp Thing, who'd previously spent the episode squatting behind a tree and peeping in on the proceedings (He has to check for evil!). In this episode's brief display of Swamp Thing using his swamp powers, he makes a tree grow out of the rifle stock, ruining legal evidence of an attempted homicide. Oh you Swamp Thing!

Back at the wake, we learn that it was grandma who'd recently kicked the bucket, thus undoing the conclusion to the pilot and dragging Tessa back to the swamps she was so eager to escape earlier. Arcane -- probably the number one reason Tessa wanted to beat cheeks for Philly in the first place -- uses the memorial service as another opportunity to put his creepy fingers on her and speak in a gross sex-whisper about bringing her a condolence casserole.

Thanks to Jim's mumbled description of the shooter, Arcane has figured out that he was the target, and that the shooter must have been one of his escaped, mutated subjects. This sends him to a featureless basement with a slide projector, the images from which he views with the smoky dispassion of a first season Don Draper. The slides show pictures of all of Arcane's half-animal test subjects, and are clearly the polaroids taken at the show's initial makeup test. They're all in a featureless hallway, lit by fluorescent lights, and at one point there's a pig guy standing in front of a door which I'm sure is janitorial closet or a darkroom. Probably there's a mole-woman standing five feet from craft services.

"I'd give that a couple of minutes before you go in there!"

Back in the bog, Swamp Thing and Falco confront one another over the matter of Falco's fucked-up gun. This leads to what is easily the best exchange in the show so far:

Swamp Thing: Hell is a word which comes easily to you.
Falco: It's where I live!
Swamp Thing: You're not from this neighborhood, then.

Ah, the Dorothy Parker of the swamps.

Unable to trump Swamp Thing's wit, Falco chooses to counter with a shocking personal revelation. Arcane turned him into a half-bird creature, but - surprise twist - he originally WAS A BIRD! ::reggaeton airhorn:: Revealing a muppety, feathered right arm, Falco spits angrily about the fate that grounded him and turned him into a human being, and then cements his point by choking a nearby mutant passer-by half to death. Falco gets slugged by a rock and Swamp Thing leaves him in the swamp to sleep it off.

Jim kneels in a cramping huddle at his grandmother's grave, puffing his face like a confused balloon in what I assume a sociopath thinks "grief" looks like. Swamp Thing gives him a pretty depressing pep talk and then Jim runs home to find his mom chugging Anton Arcane's hors d'ouevres down her pretty throat like the conveyor belt at Lucy's chocolate factory job. This is not a euphemism... yet.

Confused and excited, Jim hops in a nearby boat and promptly eats swampwater a troubling twenty feet from shore. The still, clean water notwithstanding, Jim drops like a fucking stone - his most entertaining cry for assistance being "Hey! Help!" said as if lightly annoyed towards an inattentive cashier.

"Dang! Rescue me!"

Falco sees the drowning boy and rescues him, providing bird CPR with his wookiee arm. It's in this moment that he comes to some great conclusion about mercy and vengeance.

Swamp Thing (voicing the wisest question ever asked of mankind): Can a bird save a boy's life?
Falco: When he started to breathe ... I realized I had made him live again. It was like I was flying!

Cutto: stock footage of a bird flying and the inventory sound clip of a hawk screeching, pretty much the same one as they used to use on Johnny Quest. And then ... credits. Once again, please always remember that USA Network's live-action Swamp Thing television does not have a lot of time, and so you'll have to get used to episodes just sort-of ending without a lot of resolution. Like this article! See you in two weeks for Part Three!

True to his raptor origins, he consumed his bloody prey.

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